Top Gun appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Though it showed the signs of its era, this nonetheless became a quality reproduction of the source.
Sharpness worked well for the most part. The photography leaned a little soft on occasion, but the image usually came across as accurate and well-defined.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. With a good layer of grain, any use of noise reduction seemed minimal at worst, and I witnessed no print flaws.
Colors felt fairly natural, and they came across appropriately. While not a broad, bright palette, the hues seemed well-rendered and full. The Dolby Vision disc’s HDR added depth and impact to the tones as well.
Blacks looked deep and dense, while shadows showed appealing clarity. The HDR contributed bright whites and strong contrast. This turned into a very good transfer of a semi-challenging source.
I felt highly pleased with the excellent Dolby Atmos audio of Top Gun. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the movie exhibited a wide and involving soundfield.
Not surprisingly, the many action sequences presented great opportunities for movement, and the audio used them well. Jets zoomed around the room convincingly, and the mix turned very active on those occasions. Ambient elements also fared well, while the almost-constant music presented good stereo imaging.
Not too many movies from the Eighties use the surrounds in a really dynamic manner, but Top Gun offered an exception. They offered a lot of action, especially during the flight sequences.
The mix also made fine use of the split surround capabilities, as the jets and other elements popped up in appropriate locations in the rear. This was a terrific soundfield that worked much better than I expected given the movie’s vintage.
Audio quality also was solid. Speech sounded natural and distinctive, with no signs of edginess or problems connected to intelligibility. Music showed clean highs as well as taut, warm lows, and the pop songs were well-reproduced.
Effects also appeared bright and dynamic. They suffered from little distortion and replicated the source materials accurately. Low-end was especially impressive, as the mix used the subwoofer to great effect.
Bass was tight and bold. The audio would seem positive for a movie made in 2020, so that the fact it accompanied a more than 30-year-old flick made the track all the more amazing.
How did this 4K UHD release compare to the 2020 Blu-ray remaster? Both included the same Atmos audio, but the Dolby Vision 4K seemed tighter and more vivid. While the Blu-ray looked very good – and offered a huge improvement over the prior BDs – the 4K became the best iteration of the film.
On the 4K disc, we find an audio commentary from director Tony Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, co-writer Jack Epps Jr., Navy Captain Mike Galpin, technical advisor Pete Pettigrew, and Vice Admiral Mike McCabe.
Most of the participants sit on their own for this edited piece, but Galpin, McCabe and Pettigrew are all recorded together. We learn a lot about a variety of issues.
Scott discusses his participation in the project, run-ins with the studio, his visual approach to the film and a mix of concerns that occurred along the way. Bruckheimer and Epps talk about the origins of the project and its path to the screen as well as storytelling concerns and development.
The other three get into the film’s realism - or lack thereof - as well as true-life experiences and influences on the story. Those guys present the best elements of the commentary as they cut through the bull and give us a realistic view of the movie. We even hear of Pettigrew’s frustration since the filmmakers often ignored his advice. The commentary flows smoothly and offers a concise and informative examination of the flick.
On the included Blu-ray copy, the big attraction comes from a six-part documentary called Danger Zone: The Making of Top Gun. When viewed together via the “Play All” option, it runs a whopping two hours, 27 minutes, 44 seconds. We find the usual mix of movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews.
In “Zone”, we hear from Scott, Bruckheimer, Epps, McCabe, Pettigrew, Galpin, actors Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Barry Tubb, Rick Rossovich, Michael Ironside, editors Chris Lebenzon and Billy Weber, director of photography Jeffrey Kimball, F-14 aerial coordinator Lloyd Abel, special photographic effects supervisor Gary Guttierez, USFX director of photography Rick Fichter, composer Harold Faltermeyer, music editor Bob Badami, singers Terri Nunn and Kenny Loggins, and music producer Giorgio Moroder.
They discuss the project’s origins and development, Scott’s involvement and casting, training, the atmosphere on the set and actor interactions, attempts at realism and dealings with real pilots, shooting the film on land and on sea, visual design and plot elements, filming the flying sequences, visual effects, music, early screenings, editing and the flick’s reception.
Wow - what a great documentary! When I look at disappointing elements, I’d say it’s too bad that not all of the prominent actors appear in interviews, and we also don’t get a lot from Cruise. However, those are minor complaints that really don’t mar a thorough and thoroughly entertaining program.
We get all of the nuts and bolts elements we need, and we also find plenty of terrific anecdotes. Kilmer comes across especially well, as virtually everything he offers is provocative and amusing.
The tone seems more frank than usual, and very little fluffiness affects the proceedings. Instead, we get an honest appraisal of the flick’s creation in this fast-paced and wholly involving program.
The next part of the disc presents two series of Multi-Angle Storyboards. We can check out “Flat Spin” (4:02) and “Jester’s Dead” (2:52).
The two scenes can be viewed with just the storyboards or with a storyboard/final shot comparison. They also come with optional commentary from Tony Scott. He discusses his use of storyboards and their influence on shooting.
Best of the Best: Inside the Real Top Gun looks at the fact behind the movie’s fiction. It goes for 28 minutes, 46 seconds and includes notes from Top Gun instructors Captain David “Chip” Berke and Lt. Brian “Wood” Becker, Top Gun Department Head CDR Richard “Rhett” Butler, Top Gun SFTI students Lt.Marcos “DB” Jasso, Lt. Shawn “Friday” Hall and Captain Chad “Mo” Vaughn, Top Gun adversary student Captain Matt “Tank” Taylor, Top Gun AIC student Lt. JG Amanda “Puddles” Cronin, and Top Gun AIC instructors OSC (SW) Brian “Doc” Bassett and OSC (AW/SW) Matthew “Shakey” Trimble.
“Best” delivers a take on life at flight school for the elite. We get a mix of thoughts about the training and other aspects of the experience. “Best” can be a bit dry – fighter pilots tend to be low-key in interviews – but it offers a nice view of the institution that inspired the film.
A few circa 1986 clips show up under “Original Theatrical Promotional Material”, and we open with a behind-the-scenes featurette. The five-minute, 31-second program includes the usual assortment of movie clips, shots from the set, and sound bites.
We hear from Scott, Pettigrew, Bruckheimer and producer Don Simpson. A few decent glimpses behind the scenes appear, but mostly this is a fluffy promotional piece.
Another featurette looks at Survival Training. It runs seven minutes, 31 seconds and includes remarks from Cruise, Bruckheimer, Scott, Tubb, Simpson, and actors John Stockwell, Whip Hubley and Anthony Edwards.
This one’s substantially more useful than its predecessor, as it offers a number of good shots from the actors’ training. It’s not nearly as puffy and it’s quite interesting to see.
Next come six minutes, 42 seconds of Tom Cruise interviews. He chats about his casting, his interest in flying and the flights he shot for the movie, and some other experiences. His remarks don’t fill out matters terribly well, though a few decent anecdotes appear.
In addition to seven TV spots, we find four music videos. We see clops for Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone”, Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away”, Loverboy’s “Heaven In Your Eyes”, and the “Top Gun Anthem” by Harold Faltermeyer and Steve Stevens.
These are all unintentionally entertaining. There’s not much funnier than watching Loggins - arguably the wimpiest man on the planet - try to look tough as he lip-synchs “Zone”.
Terri Nunn’s two-tone hairstyle makes “Breath” laughable, while the other two earn snickers simply due to their inherent goofiness. How did Loverboy ever sell more than five records? Y’know, I grew up in the Eighties and hold some of the era’s music near and dear to my heart, but boy did the decade produce a lot of crap.
The last two features are new to the 2020 Blu-ray, and The Legacy of Top Gun goes for five minutes, 39 seconds. It brings notes from Bruckheimer, Cruise, sequel director Joe Kosinski, and sequel actors Jon Hamm, Jay Ellis, Glen Powell, Miles Teller, Lewis Pullman, Monica Barbaro, and Greg Tarzan Davis.
“Legacy” praises the 1986 movie and promotes the 2020 sequel. It offers no useful content.
Finally, On Your Six spans 29 minutes, 54 seconds and brings info from Cruise and Bruckheimer.
Split into five segments, these look at the project’s roots and development, casting and Cruise’s participation, Navy involvement, music, stunts and aerial elements, and the movie’s release/legacy.
Cruise and Bruckenheimer tend to be fairly dull interview subjects, so their dominance here becomes an issue. Add to that the fact the prior extras already tell us so much and “Six” feels fairly redundant.
A serious piece of Eighties cheese, Top Gun doesn’t hold up well after more than 30 years. Granted, I wasn’t wild about it in 1986, but all this time later, it looks even sillier than I recalled. The 4K UHD presents solid visuals, excellent audio and many informative supplements. This easily becomes the best rendition of Top Gun ever released on video.
To rate this film visit the prior review of TOP GUN